An Empty Chair

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

This verse is one of my favorites and was my youngest brother, Travis’ favorite verse as well. We only had one post last week because of a family tragedy and one that I am sharing here in the hopes that it helps someone else and that we, as a society, start having conversations about mental health issues.

Last Sunday, I received a call from one of Travis’ friends that Travis had lost his struggle with depression and had shot himself. A million thoughts raced through my mind but sometimes the only thing you can do is pray and press into the Lord.  An empty chair reflects the sudden loss.

I don’t suffer from depression so it can be difficult for me to relate but I do know that people feel a stigma with having mental health issues, whether it be depression, bipolar, PTSD, etc. I’ve had people share that our society does not make it easy to talk to and get help for mental health issues. It’s taboo. I hesitated telling people how he died because I don’t want it to define him. He was more than a statistic.

I also heard that Christians shouldn’t suffer from depression because they have God and He can heal them. Travis was a believer and despite his internal struggle, posted all kinds of uplifting messages on Facebook with #positivity in the hopes that it would encourage others who were struggling. Being a Christian does not mean that you can’t have depression or other mental health conditions. Depression is a medical condition and is no different from being diagnosed with diabetes. Yes, God can heal us and a lot of times He accomplishes this through doctors and medication but sometimes He doesn’t; God has a plan and for some that might include chronic pain (physical or mental). Paul suffered from an ailment that wasn’t removed because it wasn’t part of God’s plan.

How big of an issue is this really? I thought maybe it wasn’t that common but almost everyone I’ve heard from either knows someone who committed suicide, attempted suicide or they themselves struggled with the thought of committing suicide. I did some research and found out just how prevalent it is. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it is the 10th leading cause of death in America and is the 2nd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. That’s significant and yet we really don’t hear much about it. It’s a conversation that needs to happen. We need to reach out to each other.

be-kind-for-everyone

I ask all of you reading this to reach out to the people you know – those closest to you and those who might just be mere acquaintances and see how they’re doing. How they’re really doing. Talk about mental health. Spread some positivity and light in such a dark world. If you or someone you know is suicidal, seek help. There are all kinds of resources available including the Suicide Hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Other resources can be found at https://afsp.org/find-support/ which includes information for those who struggle with thoughts and family members/friends who have a loved one who is struggling. Please remember that even though we’ve never met, you are valued and loved. We’re so thankful for you and know that God has great plans for you no matter where you are today. ❤

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